Claypool Scores With Book, Jam Band Mockumentary
The book, "South of the Pumphouse," is due in July via Akashic Books, while the movie, "Electric Apricot: Quest for Festeroo," has been making the rounds at film festivals in recent months.Between finishing a new studio album and regular touring, Primus bassist/vocalist Les Claypool somehow found time to finish his first book and his maiden foray into filmmaking. The book, "South of the Pumphouse," is due in July via Akashic Books, while the movie, "Electric Apricot: Quest for Festeroo," has been making the rounds at film festivals in recent months.
"I've written a handful of screenplays over the years, one of them being 'South of the Pumphouse,'" Claypool tells Billboard.com. "Years ago, we formed a film company and raised a bunch of money to make it into a movie. We talked to a bunch of different Hollywood entities. I was continually getting notes and altering the project, so I just decided to write the screenplay into novel form."
As for "Electric Apricot," the movie pokes fun at the jam band scene that has embraced Claypool of late, and features cameos from Phish's Mike Gordon, the Dead's Bob Weir, Warren Haynes, actor Seth Green and "South Park" co-creator Matt Stone.
"The whole notion is, this band has been kicking around Northern California for a good number of years, and they finally get a couple of big breaks," Claypool says. "One of them is the chance to put out a record, and other is that they get booked for the Holy Grail of jam band festivals, which is Festeroo."
And while "Electric Apricot" has been well-received at such film festivals as Oregon's Longbaugh and California's Tiburon (where it won best comedy), the production was fraught with adversity.
"It was the most difficult undertaking I've ever been involved in in my life," Claypool insists. "We had a couple of trips to the hospital. We had a hit-and-run. We had a guy who went crazy and threatened to throw all the footage into a fire. I had friends and managers fighting with each other. Then, we're on our way to the festival we're supposed to be filming for the main shot of the picture, and it gets canceled 45 minutes before we get there in an RV!"
Claypool recognizes comparisons to the legendary mockumentary "This Is Spinal Tap" are inevitable, but he notes, "Ours is way less overt. It's actually more influenced by the Ricky Gervais stuff, like 'The Office.' It's extraordinarily dry. Some people have thought it's a real documentary."
Claypool is negotiating for a distribution deal to bring the film to a wider audience. "There have been some offers for straight to DVD, but we really want to do an art house theatrical release," he says.